Banners: Fox Star Studios, Ad-Labs Films
Producers: Fox Star Studios, Aarrti Shetty, Pooja Shetty
Director: Abhishek Sharma
Cast: Sonam K Ahuja, Dulquer Salmaan, Angad Bedi, Sanjay Kapoor, Sikander Kher, Koel Puri, Manurishi Chaddha
Writers: Pradhuman Singh (Screenplay and dialogue), Neha Rakesh Sharma (Dialogue), Anuja Chauhan (Additional screenplay)
The fairy tales that all of us have heard in our childhood are usually about a charming, good-looking and successful man falling for the girl-next-door, a la Cinderella. While we have seen a few versions of this before in films, director Abhishek Sharma tries to give it a cool and cult twist by adding the cricket element in The Zoya Factor starring Dulquer Salmaan and Sonam K Ahuja.
Adapted from the book of the same name penned by Anuja Chauhan, the film ticks all the boxes of being a textbook rom-com but barring the baritone of its lead actor, it lacks the depth.
The story starts decades back when India won its first cricket World Cup on June 25, 1983 and on the same day, a girl named Zoya Solanki was born. From that point on there is belief that she is some kind of a lucky charm for anyone playing cricket. All grown up now, Zoya comes in contact with the Indian cricket team. She already crushes on the good-looking team captain, Nikhil Khoda and when she lands on location, her curls and crackers charm the skipper too. As romance kindles between the two, the team, which is on a losing streak, finds out about Zoya’s special powers and offers her to be their mascot. This annoys Nikhil who is a non-believer in the luck factor. As Zoya becomes revered all around the country as the Goddess of Cricket, she experiences the ugly side of it, which hampers her relationship with Nikhil. Will the lovebirds patch up? Is the myth about the lucky charm true? How does Zoya get out the mess that she created? All these questions form the crux of the story.
It is a well-known fact that to concise a 500 page book into a two hour film is a tough job. A heavy amount of trimming needs to be done but one has to make sure that those trimmings smoothen the storytelling whilst not leaving any gaping holes in the narrative. Unfortunately, there are some scenes in the film that fall in the latter category.
The biggest USP of the film is the love story of the protagonists. Their love story feels a little too rushed to be true. The moments between Nikhil and Zoya with them transpiring from colleagues to lovers happens much too quickly, hampering the believability of the script.
The dialogue of the film is written well. There are some funny punches peppered in the film, majorly in the first half. Since cricket is an underlying theme in the film, the scenes of the World Cup matches has typical Hindi commentary and kudos to the writer as well as the speakers for adding several hilarious moments with lines like, ‘Khoda aaj ghoda jaisa bhag raha hai’ and ‘Jitne time mein inhone yeh run banaye utne time toh poore khandaan ka Aadhar card ban jata.’
Inspired by the inner-voice over in the book, Sharma has tried his hand at the much elusive filmmaking technique of breaking the fourth wall by making Zoya talking directly to the audience. It is difficult to get this right so full marks to the director for the attempt but the execution fails to hit the right note.
What is interesting is that for people who have not read the book, the story still connects especially where cricket is concerned. The personalities of the players in the Indian team are loosely based on the real Men in Blue during the 2011 World Cup. That recognition helps the makers but the over-dramatisation and animated portrayal of the same doesn’t.
No complaints with the editing of the film. The transition from one scene to the other where the protagonist is talking to the audience is smooth. A special mention to the animation in the opening credits, which gives a fun start to the film.
The music of the film is melodious. The Lucky charm song is well-placed in the beginning. The other tracks fit nicely enough and flow with the story. The romantic numbers Maheroo and Kaash prove to be visually appealing.
Abhishek Sharma has tried to hit the ball out of the park with a new sporty twist in the classic love tale but his luck did not factor in as the ball seemed to have dropped just a few inches away from the boundary line.
Performance-wise, Dulquer Salmaan seems to be picked out of a Mills and Boon novel and put right into the middle of The Zoya Factor. The actor has a charming screen presence and with equal amounts of charisma and intensity in his role, he just seems to be in his comfort zone. Sonam K Ahuja’s Zoya exudes quirkiness and goofy behavior, which perfectly complements Nikhil’s grounded attitude. The chemistry between the actors is tangible and sweet. Angad Bedi plays the antagonist well. Sikander Kher is adorable as the irritating but loving brother. Sanjay Kapoor is good. Manurishi Chaddha is average. Koel Puri is okay. The other actors that form the members of the cricket team are decent. A special mention for Anil Kapoor’s crazy but memorable cameo as he plays a pirate. And of course, Shah Rukh Khan’s voiceover is amazing.
Verdict: Feel-good film.